Purim is over which means one thing: Passover is well and truly on its way. The holiday’s strict rules and intense rituals demand more preparation than other festivals so by our count, it’s time to start getting ready! Passover has eight days, so here is our comprehensive, foolproof eight-step guide to planning – and pulling off – the perfect Passover.
1) Cleaning for Passover may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be a huge spring-cleaning undertaking. You have to get rid of chametz – but unless someone routinely eats in the shower or behind the bookcase, you can focus on cleaning your kitchen and dining area, washing any throws or linens that may have crumbs, and thoroughly cleaning the floors.
2) Kasher your kitchen – but only once you’re ready to commit to eating Pesach food. Alternatively, designate “chametz zones” where your family can eat pre-made non-Passover food. The earlier your kitchen is turned over for Pesach, the sooner you can start cooking and the less pressure you’ll be under as the holiday approaches.
3) Plan your menu. Take into account everything you plan on serving for the festive meal, your family’s customary additions (mine serves a boiled egg in salt water before the first course, for example), and all the ritual Seder foods such as parsley sprigs and haroset.
4) Make a complete shopping list. This includes everything you need for your menu, as much matzah as you need both for Seder night and throughout the holiday, any kitchenware or disposable flatware, wine, bottled drinks and anything else you need for the holiday.
5) It’s time to shop! A word to the wise: specially produced versions of regular food for Passover are often unbelievably expensive. You can survive without ketchup for a week! Stock up on healthy whole foods for the week: creatively prepared fruit, vegetables, eggs, dairy, meat (and rice and legumes if you’re Sephardi) are so nutritious and delicious that you won’t even realize your bread and pasta are missing!
6) Ready, steady, cook! Without flour, cooking for Pesach is a whole new challenge. Turn to generations of Jewish cooks for help if you need it: you can’t go too far wrong with classics like potato kugel, matzah ball soup, and sweet, chewy almond macaroons. Plus the rise of the gluten-free diet means it’s easier than ever to prepare healthy, delicious meals during the holiday.
7) It’s the afternoon before Seder, and there’s only one must-do on our to-do list: take a nap! At this point, your house is Passover ready and you’re pretty much done in the kitchen. Experience has taught me that my Seder guests will survive without the extra side-dish you think you have to make, but you won’t get through the night if you’re running on empty. Put yourself (and your kids) to bed for an hour to make sure you’re fresh faced and ready to enjoy all your hard work!
8) It’s time for your normal pre-Shabbat or Yom Tov routine. Take a shower, set the table, and set up the lights and other electrics you need for the night. Light your candles and voila – the holiday has started!